Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. – Matthew 6:2-4
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. – Matthew 6:5-6
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. – Matthew 6:16-18
Who are you seeking to be significant with? God or people? If you look at the three separate instances above from Matthew 6 you see a very clear pattern. Those who seek the approval of others, those who do things to be noticed by others and thereby gain approval or accolades get their reward once the approval is given. And what of it? How long does it last? The praise of men grows faint indeed as it echoes down the halls of eternity.
It is only in Christ and with Christ can we achieve anything significant that has lasting value. Because it is only in Christ and with Christ that we can build for the Kingdom. Our lives built in a way, on the solid foundation of Christ, that our deeds and actions survive the fire because they have significance to God. In the sharing of the Gospel, a work of significance because it pleases God, the Apostle Paul summed it up in a few pithy words:
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. – 1 Thessalonians 2:4
This is only a dilemma if you put pleasing others on the same level as pleasing God. For often doing the things of significance will not be pleasing to others. But fear not, this does not worry God, nor should it worry you. As believers, it is God alone we should seek to please, for it is God alone to whom we will one day answer:
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. – 2 Corinthians 5:9-10
It is in Christ alone that we can have any lasting significance by being pleasing in the eyes of God. The prideful seeking of rewards based on our own merit needs be cast aside, as the praise of men will one day be cast aside as we await a judgment of rewards for faithful service in obedience to God:
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. – 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
You want to live your life to hear a well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21;23) and not smell the smoke and ash of a wasted life in the body of Christ as you stand before your Lord. Your salvation is assured upon your trust in Christ alone for your salvation; but do you want to come to the bema seat judgment via the fire escape?